The Prudent Strength – the strength no one wants

People with the Prudent strength are cautious and thoughtful in making decisions.

In your opinion, prevention is better than a cure. So you are risk averse and aware of potential harm that many others fall into. This makes you wise. With friends, you tend to be the voice of reason, protecting them from silly choices and regret. The unknown is a little scary for you, which can lead to worry and indecision. You walk with care.

Do you know anyone like that?

Reaction to the “Prudent” Strength

When a young person first gets the Prudent Strength in their Top 5, their first reaction is often disappointment. “Prudent? What’s Prudent? It doesn’t sound like a good thing to me.” Most teens have a hunch that it’s about being risk averse, with many assuming it to mean “boring and cautious”. In a society where we celebrate bravery and even a little stupidity (think of the Jackass cult following or the way we adore dangerous animal handlers), very few teenagers want to be known as the “cautious one”, the “prudent one”.

But when we unpack this trait, there’s something incredibly admirable, desirable and important about the Prudent Strength. And funnily, once affirmed in them, most teens who have Prudent in their Top 5 strengths embrace this as a positive part of their personality. 

Those with the Prudent strength are often incredibly reliable and keep their friends from harm. They are known to others as wise, but rarely see it in themselves until it is highlighted and celebrated. Those who care for a Prudent teen might get frustrated when the young one doesn’t step out and have a go, but when they do, they are almost always successful.

Where the Prudent strength is so useful

Joe was appointed as the Occupational Health and Safety officer for a large corporate company. He was the best person for the job, meticulous and detailed. He would run the fire drills, evacuations and even terror-attack scenarios. Some were annoyed by his obsession to get it right, sometimes calling him OCD and other names. Until the day the Lindt Siege happened in Sydney city. They were in a building next door to the event, and while all other buildings went into panic, Joe’s building were prepared. They were systematic in how to get staff out safely, where to assemble, and how to keep operations functional. He saved their business nearly $750,000 in shut down time, and was the hero of the day.

What a story! And it’s actually a true, real life story. Joe is a guy who we know personally and he really saved the day for one of Australia’s big Banks. His Prudent strength is off the scale, 12 out of 10. It appears as his #1 strength quality, and has not only served his business well, but he has made excellent financial decisions, has been an avid saver, avoided debt, and been very successful in his career.

Tu is 19yrs old. She is so smart with so many University options open to her. A HSC score of 95 will do that! It took her a long time to decide which degree to study – even to the point where her parents were frustrated and telling her just to pick one and get on with it! But she wanted to make the right choice. So she studied all the facts on the best courses and the job opportunities. And when she finally made a decision, it was bang on, a perfect fit.

"When my mates wanted to do a bridge jump into the river, I was the only one to go and check that there was no danger below. They didn’t even think of it – but it’s just not worth the risk."

Bracken, 15yrs

The great challenge: Overcoming fear

At times, the Prudent strength can keep someone stuck in indecision and fear. They may miss out on good opportunities because their caution holds them back. They might miss a relationship that they really want because they didn’t say how they truly feel; or they miss a job opportunity because they didn’t want to risk rejection.

We might call this the overuse of the Prudent strength. The truth for a Prudent person is that life comes with risks. To love someone is a risk. To befriend a stranger is to step into the unknown. To apply for a job comes with the risk of rejection. The great challenge for the Prudent person is to do it afraid.

3 things Prudent people need to tell themselves

3 ways to encourage a teen with the Prudent Strength

  1. Celebrate their good choices: The Prudent person has a cautious nature that leads them to make many wise and successful choices as they have thought it through before acting. By pointing out and celebrating good choices, you grow their confidence in their own ability.
  2. Help them through set backs: A teen with the Prudent strength may need some help to frame a set back objectively. They tend to catastrophise a little more than others, so help calm them with some good, gentle questions. Ask them how they feel about the set back; Dig a little to see if the consequence was as bad as they feared; Ask what bouncing back might look like.
  3. Ask them to contribute to important conversations: Those with the Prudent strength will often examine things from all sides of the argument and come up with some great points. Invite them into some adult conversations. Trust them with a little more responsibility. This will grow their confidence as you put trust in them. And if their choice/suggestion fails, refer to Point 2!

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Dan Hardie

Dan Hardie

Dan is a counsellor and the founder of MyStrengths

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